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Who has a turbo in a N/A

679 Views 17 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  wangsman
I am just trying to find out who on ZCAR.com here has a turbo just bolted on an N/A engine without the ECU and boost meter and the wiring harness, ect. I am interested in how your car runs and if you've had to modify your engine at all. I am mainly interested in the 81-83 ZX's but if other want to reply, please feel free.
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Don't really know of anyone here that does. Most of the regulars on here with turbos have done the turbo swap the RIGHT WAY. In most cases of what you are talking about people still had to use the turbo ECU, injectors, fuel pump, etc. The only non turbo part was the engine itself. This can be done but boost just can't be that high. Doing what you are saying which is just bolt up the turbo with a turbo intake piping and exhaust manifold is going to be hard to make work. I highly doubt that the non turbo ECU, injectors, and fuel pump are going to be adequate enough for it to run good or perform good. By bolting on the turbo you are ramming a bunch more air into the engine but you aren't increasing the fuel which will be a problem. Tunning will be high necessary to make it work and in the end a properly running n/a will probably still perform better. If you want a turbo do it the right way and do the whole swap. Don't try and cut corners becuase it hardly ever works.

By the way when you say High Desert where do you mean exactly? I live in the Lancaster/Palmdale area so if you are anywhere near there let me know and maybe we can meet up to shoot the **** about our cars.
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By high desert I am talking about 29 Palms, specifically the Marine Corps base out here. I am an active duty Marine and am trying to get some ideas for my two cars and maybe get a Z car club going in this area. I am always about bull******* about zcars. Too bad 29 Palms is 3 hours from Lancaster.
You're right about not needing the boost meter!!
I HAD a turbo in a 73 240 running a Holley. Aftermarket turbo's for carbs were quite a item during the 70's but no one seems to remember them or care today. Thats ok. Each generation contributes its knowledge to automotive success. With a NA basically you will need the 'turbo exhaust' manifold off a Datsun 80's 280zx turbo car. You'll need a line plumbing this from the mounted turbo unit to the oil pan. You can then make your boost static timing .... meaning you can set it permanetly for the stock 7pounds or boost it to a more respectable 10pounds permanently. This can be 'hardwired' so that the ECU for the turbo is not necessary. Having stated all this let me ask you to become more knowledgeble about Turbo units. There are many books on Turbos but the best was authored by a German fellow and explained how to turbocharge the carburated weber 911 in 1971. I've got this book in my tech library and will try to email you its authors name. The point I am trying to make is that yes ...... puting a turbo unit into a NA is in fact a doable deal. You can also contact many aftermarket Turbo producing companies for their advice and their kit plans that can work for the application you have in mind for your current NA engine. The drawback , since there is one, is that for a L-series engine it is today favorable to instead just purchase an existing L-turbo engine with turbo and ECU and ancillary sensors and wiring. Goodluck.
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Turbo injectors, an MSD BTM ignition box to retard the timing under boost and you might want to use the turbo AFM with the guts swapped for the NA ones, if for no other reason the factory turbo AFM boot fits this meter. The NA ECU should be able to handle the fueling chores, might want and adjustable FPR to dial it in.

I'd go this route WAY before screwing around with the ZXT ECU and all it's problems. Also you'll end up with a boost pressure referenced ignition curve, something the ZXT system doesn't do. With the stock NA compression you won't be able to run as much boost but should work fine at 7PSI or so on premium fuel. To lower the compression, you can just use early model dished pistons later if you want to run more boost.
LiL Black did this and had some success with the car, You can do a search and see who has done this by asking the same question in the search function. I am going to do the same thing in about a month, I have all the parts needed and have been doing some checking on this. I am not going to be racing mine, just driving it and when I want to, step on it and feel the boost. Someone mentioned No Turbo lag because you should already have decent power with the N/A motor.

As far as I know, you need. Turbo, Turbo Manifold, Turbo airflow meter and turbo intake air boot. You do have to do the guts swap from the N/A to the Turbo Air flow meter. Turbo J-pipe and front pipe so then you can run some decent exhaust later. Turbo fuel injectors should help, but I have heard of a starting problem with turbo injectors on an N/A engine. I guess I will find out about that one first hand. :eek:) The turbo oil pan, Turbo oil feed line, and oil sender adapter. I have a turbo fuel pump so hopefully I won't have a fuel starvation issue with that. I have read that the N/A pump will work with the turbo also.

If I left something out please throw the info out there,

Dexter 260z
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I bought a 73 that at one time had a turbo and holly carb on it,unfortanetly someone had stoll the turbo and carb..I still have the engine,its in my 77 with injection unit and it still runs like ****.
I ran a '83ZXT turbo engine with the stock turbo injectors and turbo FPR in my '77 using the '77 ECU, harness, '77 sensors, '77 AFM, '77 ignition '77 distributer, and the '77 fuel pump. It ran great and VERY strong for 7 miles, then POP POP POP POP POP POP. Dont know what happened, but I pulled the engine and stuck a '80ZX NA engine in it. Looking back it was probably just the head gasket, but at the time I didnt feel like fooling with it and I really wanted to drive it. The main reason I put the turbo engine in it was my '77 had a bad engine, it was the cheapest and easiest route to get my '77 going because I had a '83ZX turbo parts car at the time. I would have used the turbo harness and ecu but it was hacked up and I couldnt get it the parts car to start.

I still have the turbo and manifold, I was getting the itch to use it and go turbo with my NA engine in the manor you described then my '77 got smashed by a toyota pickup truck. When I get another 240/260/280Z I'll probably be thinking about it again.

Post Edited (Oct 8, 7:24pm)
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You WILL have to use turbo injectors, the stock z ones aren't even close to being enough for a turbo engine. You also WILL need some sort of boost retard to be able to run enough timing off boost for it to run good and to keep from detonating the engine under boost. I can't imagine the turbo injectors causing a starting problem if the car is set up right, I'm using turbo injectors on a NA car! But yes, install turbo injectors without knowing how to adjust for them and it's going to run bad.
This is not me, this is someone else who is running a turbo on an NA motor, someone i met on here actually but havent seen them around much.

--- start ---
Hey, I live in New Zealand and am in the same situation as you, no real
L28ETs here, so I thought I'd build my own.

My engine is a plain standard L28 out of a '79 ZX that had 180,000ks on it
and still had good compression. Its got the N42 head and block, standard dished pistons. I got the turbo manifold off an L20ET Laurel/Skyline, the turbo is a (very small) one of a L20ET Skyline aswell. Basically it all bolted up using the J pipe off the Laurel engine, the standard Z inlet manifold.

Its running the standard computer and air flow meter which has been moved to infront of the radiator with a K&N filter on it, a 2.5 inch exhaust.

I've got the Hobbs switch so that when it comes on boost (at about 2 - 4psi) the switch switches a resistance into the temperature sensor which makes the computer think the car is cold and adds more fuel, the injectors are RB30E ones but I think they may just be the same as standard 280ZX non turbo ones.
--- finish ---

I replied and asked how much HP its got and AF mixtures from stock ECU

--- start ---
I'm not too sure how much power its putting out, its been running pretty
strongly for a couple of months but I'm still trying to get the N/A computer
to cope with the turbo, I hope to get it on a dyno and take it down the strip fairly soon.

According to the A/F gauge its running pretty right, I've got some iridium
spark plugs in it but I haven't pulled them out to have a look.
--- finish ---

woops i left this screen here for a good 5 hours - more posts have arrived
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I had done a bolt on turbo on a factory na car with stock factory na electronics, including air flow meter. Works great. Take it from me that it is alot easier to do than to do a hole turbo motor swap, like everyone here will tell you to do.
Yeap thats my car Nitro. Its still going quite well :) got my 250KPH speedo in now and an oil cooler.

If anybody wants any pictures of anything specific just ask.

Its quite easy for you guys in the US to say just do it properly with an L28ET, but when you can't get an L28ET to start with what are you supposed to do?
I have thought about this turbo system also... I have a complete setup for the turbo ( ecu, wiring ect...).

I have been told by a few that have completed this turbo swap on the N/a that it works well.. BUT!!.. You definetely dont have the control over your fuel as well..

******Use this Info at your own Risk!!!*******

But in general this is what you do....

1. install turbo exh, turbo, injectors, and appropriate oil lines.
2. disconnect your vacuum advance (important!!).
3. retard timing to somewhere around 14-15*. ( no exact setting )
4. adjust airflow meter to run you slightly lean at idle.

From there you have the basicZ.. But, it may be a good idea to install a boost guage, and a timing retard system or knock sensor..

Link technologies offers some great stand alone knock and timing systems for good prices.

Check them out at: http://www.link-electro.co.nz/ancillary_devices.html

hope this helps.

aka: aZcarbum
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wangsman has done the conversion.....
I disagree. You have just as little control over the fuel with the ZXT electronics and it's a MUCH less reliable system. In fact with the ZXT you have zero control over the ignition curve and also no control off the boost retard. The system itself can't calculate boost retard either as there is no map sensor!

I know some disagree but after working on these for a living for 20 years and seeing which ones give more problems, the hands down winner in reliability are the NA electronics.
I got mine to run pretty good. I did a 13.6 at 108mph a few weeks ago in my 76 280Z. My traction was really bad and the fuel filter I put in before the fuel pump was packed full of rust. I had to install an old dirty tank a few weeks ago but that is another story. And it did make the car laid down a little on the top end of the track. I'm sure it would had run more trap speed if the filter wasn't clogged.

It is possible to run 15 psi of boost without any turbo efi stuff. I use the stock NA injectors and NA everything else (intake, dist. transmission, ect). You need to use a boost sensitive pressure reguator (FMU) and jack up the fuel pressure as the turbo spools up. 60 psi of fuel pressure is good for 7 psi of boost when using stock NA injectors and 100 psi is good for 15 psi of boost.

I welded up the advance slots in the distributor so the total mechanical advance is about 10 degrees and I set the inital timing to 15 to get a total timing of 25 degrees. I still use the vacuum advance because it really helps with throttle responce and gas mileage off of boost. When the boost comes on, it shuts down the vacuum advance.

I'm using a stock turbo block and P90 head. The turbo is a T3/T04B-H3 with a spearco IC. I did use the stock T3 for awhile and still hit 106 mph in the 1/4 mile at 12 psi of boost but the car lighter due to a stripped interior back then.

The hardest part is to get the fuel to flow at high pressure. Most all pumps reduce flow as pressure increases. So, I'm running 3 fuel pumps to get this system to work. A Mallory comp110 to pull the fuel from the tank then that feeds a factory style pump then that one feed another factory style pump in the engine compartment. kind of crazy but it works. And all those pumps are quiet if you can believe that!

In my case, 1 pump would only hold 50 psi when under boost, 2 pumps would do 75 or 80 psi. But by adding the Mallory 110 low pressure pump as a feeder pump, I can hold 110 psi if need be.

But, this is not the best way to do it. It works great for 6 to 7 psi of boost. But the boost bug bit me and I wanted more! 12 and 15 psi is so much better than 6 or 7. So I started adding these patches to get just a little more boost and ended up with 15 psi on stock NA injectors.

The best way to do it is to use something like magasquirt with ignition control and the proper size injectors.

Good luck
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